Comparing Jude Bellingham’s minutes to Gerrard, Lampard & Scholes at the same age
Jude Bellingham has played an unprecedented number of minutes as a teenager. The England international’s current club, Borussia Dortmund, as well as potential suitors like Liverpool and Real Madrid may want to take heed and manage his future load accordingly.
The midfielder doesn’t turn 20 until the summer. He looks set to make it to over 200 appearances played as a teenager – a tally that’s pretty much unprecedented.
To date, Bellingham has made 192 senior appearances, 158 senior starts and 13,787 minutes for club and country in all competitions.
To put that in context, Lionel Messi had played almost 10,000 fewer minutes as a teenager, Erling Haaland had made 100 fewer starts and the likes of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Bukayo Saka – all of whom burst onto the scene at a young age – racked up considerably fewer appearances.
England icon David Beckham had only made five senior appearances prior to his 20th birthday, Paul Scholes just 19, and Frank Lampard 46.
Steven Gerrard, who Bellingham has cited as his idol, didn’t break through to start regularly for Liverpool and England until his early twenties.
The legendary former Liverpool captain made just 43 appearances (31 starts) as a teenager – a tiny fraction of the number Bellingham has already tallied.
“Well let me tell you, you’re a lot further ahead than I was at your age. So you’re going in the right direction, that’s for sure,” Gerrard said, speaking to Bellingham as a pundit on Channel 4’s coverage of England’s 2-0 World Cup qualifier victory over Ukraine.
“Well for one he’s got a better body than what I had at 19. I’m being serious! I never had that power and strength until I was 22-23.
“So he’s definitely more physically developed than me. He’s more confident than me on the ball, in terms of trying stuff. I’m not just saying that to be modest, but I think he’s further on than what I was at 19.
“Don’t get me wrong, I got to where I wanted to get to, and he’s going to get to where he wants to if he keeps doing what he’s doing.
“He’s a fantastic player. He just needs to keep playing well, keep playing well and the rest will take care of itself.”
• • • •
• • • •
Bellingham has already made 24 appearances for England, including knockout matches at two major tournaments.
He burst onto the scene as a 16-year-old at Birmingham City and quickly began starting regularly for his boyhood club.
After joining Dortmund from the Championship club, Bellingham scored on his debut and quickly established himself as a regular for the Bundesliga giants at the age of just 19.
The rising star has also played 1820 minutes across 23 appearances in the Champions League. Only Iker Casillas and Cesc Fabregas have played more in the history of the prestigious European competition.
Gerrard isn’t the only former England international to have been bowled over by Bellingham’s astonishing ability as a 19-year-old.
Joe Cole believes that the Borussia Dortmund man has what it takes to become the Three Lions’ greatest-ever midfielder – although he offered a stark warning of what can happen with prodigious talent.
“I was lucky enough to have a fantastic, long career. There are many, many players who have that burden and don’t make it, they can’t handle the pressure,” Cole told The Mirror.
“You have to handle the expectation. You get to a level where the expectation is like a pressure cooker. Jude has already answered all of those questions because he has performed at the very highest level for Dortmund and England. He has come through that.
“Now it’s a question of: can he sustain it? Can he stay clear of injury? Can he continue to make marginal gains and improve? Can he add more goals? He has already proved he can handle the player.
“I could list hundreds of players who were the Next Big Thing and some ended up not even playing football. Everything that happens on a football pitch happens first between your ears.”
Tipped to make a move this summer – with Liverpool, Manchester City and Real Madrid all said to be interested – Bellingham looks set to break Jack Grealish’s record £100million transfer fee for an Englishman. It will be fascinating to see what’s next for the 19-year-old, who has already shown so much potential.
The minutes he’s already clocked up ought to serve as a stark warning to be managed carefully.
Former wonderkids like Dele Alli, Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen perhaps didn’t have the longevity they might have over the course of their full career because they racked up so many minutes while they were still developing physically.
Here’s a deep dive into the minutes Bellingham has clocked up to date.
With credit to Twitter user @louorns who has done the lord’s work in crunching the numbers, comparing the number of appearances, starts and minutes played by Bellingham to some of his predecessors for England and other rising stars from around world football.
See the full list below:
There’s been a discussion around Bellingham and how much football he’s played at his age, so I looked at other players and compared their minutes at the same age. Bellingham has started 158 senior games at 19 — David Beckham and Paul Scholes hadn’t started 10 yet pic.twitter.com/COIcvqSy5y
— luke (@louorns) March 27, 2023